The Derby Ailsas.

A most curious vehicle was the Volvo 'Ailsa' B55/10. Basically almost devoid of suspension and with a front mounted engine, which on the majority of the type was coupled to a Voith three speed automatic gearbox.

Early versions appeared in 1976, and their ride quality was somewhat better probably due to their having larger wheels than their 1980s counterparts.

Not many operators went for the B55/10. Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Executive took considerable numbers (after all the chassis were built in Irvine, Ayrshire) with massive looking Alexander bodies, Cardiff City Transport took a batch with Northern Counties bodywork to virtually the same design as the batch delivered to Derby City Transport.

Derby had four oddities, notably the only Ailsa ever to carry a low height body (the chassis designation was B55/20 for that one), LUG 480P, a prototype which started life in West Yorkshire and had a semi-automatic gearbox. In addition to these there were two chassis which were bodied by Marshall of Cambridge. These went initially to Merseyside PTE.

Derby City Transport is now quite an anonymous part of the huge corporate Arriva concern. There were plans to withdraw the Ailsas which didn't really work out as nobody wanted them! Indeed a batch of former London Country Volvo Citybuses were drafted in with the replacement of the Ailsas in mind. And so the year 2000 dawned and the curious sound effects of the B55/10 could still be heard in Derby, and sometimes Leicester should one go off on loan, they never seemed to stay long though!

By 2001 it was just the former 115, numbered 4115 and carrying Arriva livery which soldiered on until its engine gave up

The next few pages depict the whole batch of Derby Ailsas.

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